Staunton, October 12 – “Those who destroyed the Soviet Union and created the CIS simply wanted to deceive people so that they would not be too disturbed since in place of the USSR would appear a more perfect union,” according to Konstantin Zatulin, director of the Moscow Institute of the Countries of the CIS.
Zatulin’s comments are among the most negative assessments of the Commonwealth of Independent States ever offered by a Moscow official and particularly by one long associated with the promotion of unity among the post-Soviet states. They have attracted particular notice in advance of a CIS summit (vesti.uz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52494).
The Moscow political figure pointed out that “the CIS organization and the CIS space are not equivalent. The organization can be better or worse, but no one can change the space as such. One can call it something else – ‘the post-Soviet space,’ for example, but one may also call it “the CIS space.”
The CIS is “a strange organization,” something like the Organization of American States (OAS) or the Association of South-East Asian Countries (ASEAN). These are groupings which no one expects “dividends at the end of the year or any obligatory success.” All three are states “in one region” which are thus forced to “jointly solve their problems.”
“Unfortunately,” Zatulin says, “it so happened that at the beginning of its organizational path, some tried to present the CIS as an alternative to the Soviet Union. This of course was …intentional hypocrisy and a pack of lies.” And that in turn “created the impression that the CIS has not fulfilled its functions or achieved the successes for which it was created.”
In reality, there was no chance that it could be “a stronger union than the Soviet Union has been.” And that is more true now, Zatulin continues, because a number of countries “have made or are making an attempt to leave the post-Soviet space.” The first were the Baltic countries, then Georgia, and now Ukraine, Moldova and Turkmenistan.
Nowadays are other times than those in which the CIS was created, he continues; and within its borders but at an entirely different level of integration and purposefulness have emerged groupings like the Organization for the Collective Security Treaty, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Customs Union, and the Eurasian Union.
The implication of Zatulin’s statement is that the CIS will continue to exist but that it id likely to have ever less content, ever fewer members and ever less importance for Moscow, a far cry from the claims he and other Moscow politicians and commentators were making about it only a few years ago.